Monday, July 25, 2005

The natural order of things

I heard a bizarre radio commentary this afternoon on a Christian radio station. I've looked around the 'net to see if I could find a link to it, to no avail. (I can't remember the name of the speaker nor the name of his new book.) The speaker was talking about how he's learned the importance of following the earth's natural order. Sounds pagan, right? He didn't say, "God's natural order," he said the earth's natural order. His example was as follows (and I'm probably missing some details, so bear with me). A community in Africa was suffering from malaria. The World Health Organization, in order to stem the spread of malaria, sprayed the thatched houses in the village with DDT (I believe this was a number of years ago). Unfortunately, the DDT killed not only the mosquitoes, but also the predator of some insect who eats straw. As a result, the thatched roofs caved in. Geckos ate the straw-eating insect and became sick from DDT; cats at the geckos and became sick. As the cats died, the rats began to take over. So the WHO parachuted cats into the village to eat the rats.

The speaker's point was that by spraying the people's homes with DDT, "the bureaucrats at the World Health Organization" ignored the natural order of things and made a big mess. Now I'm inclined to agree with that assessment stated thus. However, the speaker implied that the WHO shouldn't have interfered in the first place, unfortunately also implying that letting people grow sick and die of malaria is part of "the natural order of things." But let's give the speaker the benefit of the doubt and assume that he didn't mean that, even though he said nothing about saving people from malaria.

Then the speaker made a fabulous leap of illogic: he compared interference in the malaria case with homosexuality and non-monogamy. That is, just as the WHO interefered with the natural order of things by spraying for mosquitos, so do human beings interfere with nature's order by engaging in various "unnatural" (by definition) sexual practices! The moral of the story is that we run into all kinds of trouble when we mess with Mother Nature. And, apparently, having sex outside of heterosexual marriage counts as messing with Mother Nature.

I love it! It's so profoundly stupid! It's one thing to argue that God decrees heterosexual marriage; I mean, how can we argue with that? ("No he doesn't." "Yes he does." "No he doesn't.") But to argue that the only natural expression of sexuality occurs within heterosexual marriages? This despite the fact that human beings have always engaged in same-sex sexual practices, have always sought sex outside of sanctioned relationships, and have always been promiscuous in our search for pleasure and reproductive success? How can the commentator not see that his definition of 'natural', or what counts as natural, is stipulative?

Wow. As the old saying goes: I must refuse a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.

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